Phuket: Banana Massaaaaah?

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March 25th 2011
Published: April 5th 2011
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Koh Tao > Phuket > KL

Koh Tao > Phuket

Our ferry from Koh Tao pulled in to the Southern ferry port near Surat Thani around 3:00pm, after saying goodbye and leaving Koh Tao around 10:30am. I had bought a package deal from my dive resort for 800 baht to have the ferry and bus arranged to take us directly to Phuket from Koh Tao, so the bus was waiting on the pier to take passengers onwards.

After jumping on the bus, which was quite comfortable, it pulled out towards the village of Surat Thani, about 45 minutes away. Once there, the bus dropped us off at a small eatery on the side of the road to 'transfer busses', where a nice man suggested we spend an extra 300 baht for an 'express' bus to Phuket, otherwise we wait for our bus for an hour. By this time we had met a guy who was also from Canada (he's just like my friend Idana's boyfriend Jay, so we'll call him Jay) and we declined the nice man's request for 300 baht, as we had already paid a whopping 800 to get us out of there.

About 45 minutes later, he gestures to a songathew, kind of like a tuk tuk, but made out of a pickup truck, and told us that that was our ride and it would take 6 hours. Jay freaked on the guy and said there's no way we're taking that thing for 6 hours (by this time it was around 5 or 6pm, and the sun was setting. So then we had a nice standoff and the pickup truck went away, but still no vehicle to take us out of there. Others were paying the 300 baht and getting in vans and driving off, so eventually we paid him 200 baht each, and got in our packed van, headed for Phuket. No sign of our A/C bus that we had paid up the ying-yang for. It was our first screw-over of the evening (and a first for all of our Thailand travel) but the nice man was ready to just leave us there all night, otherwise.


The 'express' van ended up taking 8 hours anyways, and before getting to Phuket proper, the driver pulled into a tour agency and told us we had to leave the van to arrange our hotels. Nobody got out, it was about 11 or 12pm, and we just wanted to get to Patong Beach, the ultimate destination for everyone in the van. About 5 minutes into another standoff, the tour agent lady, we'll call her Helga, roughly shoves open the van door and rudely says to us that if we don't get out of the van, nobody is leaving!

Well, after more than 12 hours of travelling, nobody was in any mood, so we got out, stood in her travel agency and didn't talk. Jay eventually asked her what kind of hotel rooms she had, and she gave him a schpeel about a nice room for 1500 baht (about 30 dollars) which is a LOT of money in Thailand.

Our group was standing behind him and Trung laughed and we commented about how expensive that was. Helga turned to us and said 'I'm dealing with him right now, this is none of your business.' But Jay wasn't having any of it either, so we all got up and walked back to the van. By this time, the others in our group simply ask the driver to get in and take us to the beach and he complies. We tell him
The van from the sheister's bus stiopThe van from the sheister's bus stiopThe van from the sheister's bus stiop

PP was Poo-Poo, don't use this company!
we'd like to go to Patong Backpacker, a hotel we looked up in the Lonely Planet, to try and avoid the inevitable up-sell drop off which is a classic move in Thailand.

He drops us all off at a different backpacking hostel, but that's fine, the place is great, and they actually have a private room for 900 baht, not too bad for Trung and I, at about 11 dollars each. Jay and a couple of others decide to take the 6 bunk room, but for 400 baht each, it's hardly worth it, but by this time it's 2am and nobody cares anymore.

Jay, Trung and I are ravenous so we head out after check-in to find some street food. Phuket ends up to be a thriving night city. As we walk down the street, the first thing you notice is the smell of food, sewage, sea air and whatever else is on the street. The next thing you notice is literally hundreds of money lady-boys and girls at 2 in the morning offering body massage or in my case...banana massage. Fun, no thanks. Our street
food was in a small alley off the main drag, which is bar after bar of super-drunk Aussies and Europeans. Even at 2am it's busy, which is a bit of a change from the rest of go-to-bed-early SE Asia.

The next day Trung and I go exploring to find a new hotel, as the hostel is double-booked and kicking us out. We walked about 12 blocks up and down the beach and found only hotels for 900 baht, and thinking we can do cheaper, we're in and out of all the hotels on the strip. Eventually, litrally 3 doors down from the hostel, we find our place on a quiet side-street (called a Soi, in Thai). It's only 700B, has a balcony, A/C and hot water. Only a block from the beach, it's a steal!

The rest of the day is spent lounging on beach chairs on the beach. It's literally side-to-side beach chairs in 3, 4 or 5 rows deep running the length of the beach. Average price for day-rental: 100 baht. Crazyness.

That night we toured around a bit more, seeing the sights and smells of Phuket as she came alive at night. There are tons of good shopping t-shirt stalls, and I bought a pair of swim shorts for only 200 baht ($7). By this time I'm tired of all the cat-calling: Tuk Tuk, Tuk Tuk Sir? Suit? Armani? Versache? Gucci? Tuk Tuk? Body Massaaaah? Banana Massage? Tuk Tuk? Suit? You want Suit boss? Wallets? Watches? Over and Over and Over again. Eventually you just tune it out, but once in awhile if someone is extra creative with their cat-calls, I'll respond.

On the way home, I run across some extremely giant cockroaches and a large rat with wonky looking tail.

The following day we found a good place for brunch and then headed to the beach again. On the beach we met a great group of Israilis who are super cool. Myself and one of the girls decide to join a volleyball game on the beach. The guys playing are really good, so we just kind of got in the way, but the other guys had fun anyways.

That evening Trung and I went pre-drinking at the Israel's amazing hotel that they're paying 5000 baht for, and have a few drinks and dance on the beds a bit before heading out into the hot, humid night. At the bar we partake in
Phuket fish buffetPhuket fish buffetPhuket fish buffet

Barracuda eating a barracuda!
a thorough drag-show, which is fairly entertaining. One of the drag queens sings a song from a 60's James Bond movie, I can't remember the name, but it's like 'Diamonds are Forever'. Classic.

The next day is more of the same, we go early to stake our claim at the lounge chairs. Our flight is in the evening, so we had to check out of our room, but the nice man at the hotel watched our bags all day while we were at the beach. We had to book a mini-bus to the airport, it's about an hour's drive away, so the bus is going to pick us up at the hotel at 6pm. It's a busy day of relaxing on the beach. It rains a bit, but we've got our beach umbrellas, which the nice beach chair man sets up for us, 2 each, after it starts raining.

We decide, because life is so hard, to get a massage before the bus arrives to take us to the airport. There's a massage parlour next to our hotel that looks really nice and it's busy, so we join in the fun and get a Thai massage. It's 5pm, so we tell them we have exactly 1 hour to get the massage. It's fun, Trung and I are in the same room laying on the floor while the ladies bend and manipulate our limbs into all sorts of crazy positions. At one point I'm sitting up, her legs are somehow wrapped around mine, even though she's only 5' tall and sitting behind me, and she's got me in a headlock, swinging me back and forth, and performing the most satisfying back stretch and cracking I've ever experienced.

When the massage is done, the other masseuses are freaking because the bus is outside, and we have about 5 seconds to get dressed and out the door. By now its absolutely pouring rain (later we'll find out it's the pre-emptive rain to the severe flooding that the region experienced shortly after we left).

The bus is painfully long and we only have an hour left to check in by the time we get to the airport. But as soon as we check in we realize the flight is delayed another hour and a half, so we relax and eat. Trung get's Burger King (gross) while I have Subway (still gross, but better). The flight to Kuala Lumpur is relatively painless, except that it's a brand new Boeing 737, and when we take off, there's a humid 'mist' that comes from the vents. Now, when you take off the air coming out of the vents is quite quick, so the cabin almost completely fills with this fog... some people think the plane is on fire, which is not cool.

Kuala Lumpur

By the time we're in Kuala Lumpur it's almost 2am. We didn't realize this, but there's an hour's time change in Malaysia, even though it's directly south of Thailand. Odd. Anyways, the airport is quite far from the city centre, so we catch an express bus (very nice) which takes us to downtown for 8 ringets, which is only a few dollars. Once at KL Sentral, the cabbies all quote us 35 ringets to the hotel we booked, which is pretty crazy, compared to our dollar cab rides in Bangkok. We accept because by this time it's too late to care and get carted to our hotel, which ended up being a very nice hotel near the city centre and within walking distance to everything.

Phuket: Probably not a place I'll travel to again, but good for a laugh and a short vaycay.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Phuket Beach!Phuket Beach!
Phuket Beach!

Not as bad as I make it sound...

17th April 2011

Hey Andy and Trung; It sure sounds like you guys are having the adventure of your life. You will never forget all that you have done and seen. Andy, you have a real knack for writing, are you sure that you shouldn't become an author. Your writing is very good, and pleasant to read. It is better than reading any travel brochures. The history and all that you have written about are wonderful, and you seem to make everyone reading it feel as though they are almost part of your trip. You guys continue to have a good time, but be careful too. By the way, it is past the middle of April, and we have had a mini snow storm. Don't you wish you were here. LOL Take care! Auntie Barb
28th April 2011

This is my favourite post so far. I think the pictures themselves make me laugh my ass off. "this reminds me of when our waitress caught on fire" - priceless. If I magically come across some money, I will be flying out to join you guys for a week or two!

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